The Greater Manchester Fringe festival has some mouth-watering shows featuring some big hitters along with our region's top creatives in some of our great venues. From the 1st to the 31st July it will be choc-full of shows, talent and curiosities. Plays, stand-up, musicals and poetry are among the countless happenings.
It always adds a bit of extra excitement to proceedings when a local talent has a debut piece at the Fringe. This year one of the hot tickets will be for The Things We Tell The Hours After Midnight at Salford Arts Theatre.
This relatable tale is set firmly in the here-and-now and looks at relationships, social issues and the frictions of modern day life. Add to that, the play has been scripted by 16 year old Salfordian Libby Hall.
Brilliantly, Libby was inspired by another local writer: "It all started last year when I did my monologue for Shelagh Delaney Day. Then Roni Ellis asked me if I'd like to write a play. I said that I definitely would and it all stemmed from there really."
Are you nervous or excited about the play?
"Right now, I'm probably 50/50. Performing on stage itself is nerve wracking, but performing in a play you also wrote is on another level. I've performed my own writing on stage before, but not on this scale, nothing as huge as a play; so my apprehension is naturally more intense. I don't want nerves to get in the way of my excitement though; I'm loving every second of rehearsing. My hopes are that the show sells well, audiences enjoy it and can appreciate the message I'm trying to put across."
Where did the idea come from?
"The idea came from being mindful to some of the social issues happening around me, and wanting to voice my opinion on them. I noticed that relationships between different generations were becoming flawed and volatile. I think that children are extremely impressionable; they pick up on everything and sometimes, depending on their surroundings, that's a positive thing, sometimes it's not. With The Things We Tell The hours After Midnight I tried to explore this in depth."
Who are your favourite writers?
"I enjoy work by lots of writers, but I find Shelagh Delaney particularly awe-inspiring because she was so bold with her writing. A Taste of Honey was so rebellious, it gave society the finger. I would have loved to have been alive for its debut."
How do you feel about being compared to Shelagh?
"Obviously I can see the similarities, both of us being Salford women and young when debuting our plays, but I don't like to compare myself to anyone. We are different people at the end of the day. With that said; if after watching my play people are still saying the same thing, I'll be beyond flattered."
What age group is the play aimed at?
"Even though the cast and characters are relatively young, I'd say the play's narrative and message is targeted at an older audience. Some of the dialogue was definitely intended to impact that age group. However, younger audience members can still enjoy the play. There's a real mix bag of characters, all with opposing viewpoints and perspectives and different things going on in their lives. So I think, or I hope, younger audiences will relate and to a certain extent sympathise with the characters; maybe even recognise themselves in one or two of them."
Libby Hall is a real Salford star in the making and definitely one to keep an eye on.
The Things We Tell The Hours After Midnight by Libby Hall
Wednesday 25th and Thursday 26th July 7:30pm
Salford Arts Theatre £8
For more details and to book tickets see the GM Fringe website www.greatermanchesterfringe.co.uk
Words by Ian Leslie